Saturday, August 21, 2010

Childhood Thrills - Dick Whittington and His Cat.

Childhood Thrills is a feature that recalls books I read in my childhood or adolescence that were special to me or "haunt" me in some way.  I don't intend to re-read & review them, just simply share my memories and the feelings they evoke.  

Dick Whittington and his Cat  

Turn again Whittington!
Thrice Lord Mayor of London!

Does anyone remember this story?  My Dad kept it under his bed and read it to me over and over.  The cover pictured here isn't the version we had, but I do remember loving the colorful pictures in my book and I loved the story even more.  It's about an orphan boy who through hard work, a good heart and tenacity overcomes his situation and eventually becomes the mayor of London.  The story has a fairy tale quality to it, but it is also realistic, which made me believe in possibilities that Cinderella or Snow White couldn't.  Plus, my father and I shared a love of cats, so that made the book even more special. 

In doing some research on this story this past week, I discovered that the tale is based on the real Lord Whittington who lived in Medieval Times and was indeed Lord Mayor of London three times.  

What I also remember most about this story is that it was the only one my father would read to me.  I found this puzzling and still do to this day, because my father was a voracious reader!  He sat in his recliner and read all the time.  I mean all the time.  He read quickly too.  There was a pile of books around his chair on the floor and when he would finish one book, plop! it went on one pile and he would pick up another one.  He also had a battered red Webster's dictionary next to him that he would refer to often.  Toward the end of his life my sister wondered what he could possibly be looking up!  Didn't he know the definition of every single word in the English language by now? But even with his love of reading, even though I came to him with other books, he would only read Dick Whittington and his Cat to me.

I credit him for giving me my love of reading.  When I was small, he brought me to the library frequently and one of my earliest memories is him coming home with a collection of Dr. Seuss books.  As I got older he would always leave books for me in my room and when I moved out, he usually had some waiting for me when I came to visit.

This post is for my Dad because today is his birthday.  But I still use the gift he gave me.  My love of reading.



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